Interview - Studio Visit with Brooklyn Based Artist Til Will

Can you start by introducing yourself?

My name is Til - I'm a painter and I live in Brooklyn and we're in my studio, which is also in Brooklyn. 

When did your journey as an artist begin? 

I started drawing when I was maybe eight years old and did it a lot when I was young. In terms of when I decided that I was going to pursue a life of art making, I guess I was in high school. 

I had a good art teacher who was sort of like, “Hey, you should go to art school”. And I didn't really know that was an option. Then I guess I was aware that it was an option, but I grew up in a place where that's not really a thing. So I didn't really have examples of people that were art professional artists other than teachers, I guess. So I think that's when it started - it was when I had a good teacher tell me that is what I should be doing. I guess sometimes it takes somebody else to identify it, you know? And then I guess getting into art school solidified that for me. 

Artist Til Will

Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration and how your work has evolved over the last couple of years? 

I guess the way I would answer that question is the things that I’m working on right now are really motivating me - like in terms of just exploring line and reducing paintings down to black and white has helped me explore line. And this idea of two or three tones, not necessarily colors - creating imagined space. That’s something I’m really interested in right now. And I think that being able to make an image with one color is kind of magical to me. 

In terms of how my work has evolved in the last couple of years, I've been experimenting with all kinds of media, not just painting. I've done a lot of animation in the past couple of years. My partner and I have collaborated on five music videos in the last couple of years we've done for our own musical project and then also three other artists that we know. That's a really interesting process - trying to make visual art that helps a song or is the accompaniment to a song which is totally, totally different than making an object that just hangs on the wall. I like the idea of art that can be experienced anywhere which is why I'm really interested in animation. You can just pull it up on your phone or play it on your computer or, you know, put it on a huge projector. 

I think I do work in phases a lot. I spent a lot of last year working on a musical release that's coming out soon with my friend's band. So I'm not always in the studio painting, I guess. Right now I'm doing a lot of painting, like in the last two or three months. But yeah, I sort of go in and out of that practice I guess, which I think is good for me because I think I do get a little distance. Once you've had a month or two of separation from the thing you're doing, you can see it a lot differently. So I think having lots of different artistic pursuits is important for me because I can shelve the paintings for a while, focus on something completely different, come back to it

Artist Til Will

You mentioned collaborating with your partner and working with friends. You also have Watercolour Society - can you tell us about that and expand on your collaborative process with other artists? 

Watercolor Society is really exciting - it’s a thing that kind of happened when Paz and I were traveling. We were making watercolors in the Southwest and we were driving around finding the most beautiful places to paint. And the medium on hand was watercolors. And we were both sort of, I don't know, learning how to use them. The joke at the time was "Oh, it's time for Watercolour Society”. And I just thought that was hilarious. And so when we came back, we were like, maybe we should just because I've always had a thing where I love just getting together with artist friends and drawing at the bar or maybe sometimes collaborating in other people's studios. But I wanted to bring that energy into an actual organized thing, which is what Watercolour Society basically is. It's a day for everyone to get together and draw. Anyone can come, it's free. It's at limited capacity because we have a lot of interest now, so we sort of have to have a limited sign up when I announce it. 

So basically an artist will volunteer to host and it's 10 to 15 people who come and just hang out in someone's living room, paint a still life, or when the weather gets nicer, we'll just meet somewhere in the park and do plein air painting. But I like the idea that people that aren't necessarily painters or artists per se can show up and experiment with paint even if they're not necessarily creatives. I work in the art world, I do a lot of work in galleries and it's nice to bring art back to earth - it doesn't always have to be this commodified thing necessarily. I think it should be something that everyone should be able to experience. I think that's part of the impetus for Watercolour Society is just having a space that's about having fun and painting, not being like “I'm a professional, I have to go to my studio and focus on this body of work”. It's like when you go to Watercolour Society, you can paint a still life or something completely unrelated to what you're doing in the studio - you can bring your own ideas and you can just draw whatever you want. 

There is something interesting, though, about the dynamic of being in a group drawing space versus being in a solitary situation. I think the dynamic is you're kind of learning other people's techniques which is really interesting. You're learning about what kinds of materials people are using and how that affects what they're making. I'm not necessarily concerned with who made the best painting and Watercolour Society per se. I would rather it just be about the time spent and the conversations had. That in and of itself is the work, you know? 

 Artist Til Will
Artist Til Will


What’s something that you are working on right now that you are excited about?

I'm really excited about this one that's called Forest. That was sort of the one that kind of jolted me into the black and white and gray kind of paintings I'm working on right now… Playing with inversion has been a thing and with the gray, it adds a third layer of inversion.

I think another thing is the process for me has to continue to be interesting or else I will just put the painting away forever if it's not continually exciting as I'm going. I find that to be really hard. So I made this [painting] three weeks to a month ago, maybe a month ago. And so I guess that one was the one that really spurred the excitement. 

I'm super excited about this [other painting]. And I'm trying to think about these shapes that are overlaid into the paintings as being slices out of a different universe - of another painting universe. So this one's really hard edge and its own concrete thing. And then this one that's airbrushed is out of focus and maybe coming from a different way of seeing perhaps. So I think the airbrush has helped me try to mess with that a little bit more. That's been something I've been doing for a long time with other paintings but I think I'm trying to get it more distilled here because there's no color. So it's a little bit more dramatic. The effect of the airy, almost fuzzed out line, I guess, versus the super hard edge graphic thing. And then also like bringing in this new element, which is the academic gradient. With a brush, it's all stipple, you know - that's another thing that I'm starting to think about now. And this painting, I guess, is the first one I've been like, “What does that do when it's versus the super smooth fade of the airbrush versus this kind of clunky shading, which is like characteristic of early 20th century modernist painting?” A lot of painters just kind of just chunked it out, you know? But I like taking things that are recognizable and very iconic. I like mashing up all these things that are super recognizable… and combining those things to try to get at some sort of abstraction. I guess that's where I'm at now. It's pushing into that territory where you subtly hint at abstraction on top of very graphic imagery.

I think one thing that really excites me and in particular paintings is when there's care put into the expression of surface. I think a lot of painters, even a lot of painters that I like, just have one way of laying paint down and the whole entire painting is just done with that same kind of hand, I guess. And I really like the idea of adding that element in the painting. Parts of it are going to be really, you know, almost sheerly done for lack of a better word. I like it when parts of the painting are just kind of lazy and then other parts are really considered. I suppose variation of how you're laying down the material is something I'm conscious of and I'm excited about that too. 

Artist Til Will


Receive updates on new artworks, artists, special events, and holiday deals! Unsubscribe anytime.

Sign up to receive updates about new featured artists, upcoming studio tours, and more!

By clicking the button you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions